HOUSTON (AP) — Kyle Schwarber went from big bopper to bad bunter.
One of the Philadelphia Phillies’ most fearsome sluggers popped up foul on a two-strike bunt attempt with his team one inning from World Series elimination. That bizarre strikeout spoke more loudly than Schwarber’s third Series homer, which briefly put Philadelphia ahead.
After taking a 2-1 lead in the Fall Classic, the Phillies lost three in a row — the last a 4-1 defeat Saturday night that gave the Houston Astros the World Series title in six games.
After becoming the first third-place team to reach the Series, the Phillies fell short of winning their first crown since 2008.
“We went through a dry spell at the wrong time,” said Rob Thomson, unable to join Bob Lemon and Jack McKeon as the only managers to take over midseason and lead a team to the title. “You’ve got to give credit to their pitching.”
Philadelphia batted .101 (9 for 89) with 38 strikeouts and three extra-base hits in the three straight losses, which included a combined no-hitter by the Astros in Game 4 and a three-hitter in Game 6. Philadelphia batted .163 in the Series overall.
Rhys Hoskins hit .120 (3 for 25) with one RBI, J.T. Realmuto .167 (4 for 24) with three RBIs, and Bryce Harper .200 (4 for 20) with two RBIs. Nick Castellanos fell to .125 (3 for 24) with one RBI when he fouled out to end it.
Schwarber was the best of the bunch at .250 (5 for 20) with four RBIs.
Philadelphia’s 71 strikeouts over the six games were a Series record, breaking the mark set by Arizona in a seven-game Series against the New York Yankees in 2001 and matched by Tampa Bay against the Los Angeles Dodgers two years ago.
Reaching the World Series was a surprise for the Phillies, who were 22-29 when Thomson replaced fired manager Joe Girardi on June 3. They were the 12th and final team to clinch a berth in the expanded playoffs, an October afterthought that would have been watching at home under the previous postseason format.
After finishing 87-75 during the regular season, Philadelphia swept two games from NL Central champion St. Louis in the new wild-card series and upended NL East champ Atlanta, a 101-game winner, over four games in the Division Series. Then the Phillies beat San Diego in five games in an all-wild card NLCS.
“This is sustainable, this type of winning atmosphere and winning team,” Thomson said. “They have accomplished a lot. It’s still disappointing, though. And I told them after the game, I said, `You guys have nothing to be ashamed of. You don’t need to hang your head for anybody.’”
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